Syringes used for the Cincinnati Exchange Project (Photo: Jane Andreasik)
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CINCINNATI -- The well-known heroin epidemic that spans across both Ohio and Kentucky counties has led to a record number of deaths and has state leaders continuing to fight back.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell resume their battle against the drug Wednesday.
McConnell is scheduled to testify at a hearing before the Senate Caucus in Washington D.C. on International Narcotics Control on heroin and prescription drug abuse.
The hearing "will explore prescription drug abuse and the role it plays in the increased use of heroin in the United States, as well as how the federal government can help reduce opioid abuse,” according to Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Co-Chairman Chuck Grassley.
McConnell held a listening session in Florence, Ky. on March 7 to give the community a chance to list their grievances with the deadly drug and to help find a resolution.
He said Northern Kentucky heroin overdose deaths doubled in only one year from 33 in 2011 to 66 in 2012.
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“That is the kind of statistic that cannot be tolerated,” McConnell said. “Northern Kentucky has been hardest hit partially because of its proximity to Cincinnati, a center for heroin trafficking.”
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McConnell wwas slated to testify at 2:30 p.m. That meeting was cancelled early Wednesday afternoon.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is blunt with his anti-heroin approach. In a statement released Tuesday, DeWine writes:
Heroin is killing Ohioans at record levels. My office recently surveyed coroners from across the state who reported the number of heroin deaths in their counties. Though not all the numbers are in yet for last year, we believe at least 900 Ohioans died directly from a heroin overdose. That number doesn't include the hundreds of other deaths where heroin was a contributing factor.
Heroin is everywhere. It is in every county in Ohio. It is cheap. It is plentiful. And, it is deadly.
As Attorney General, my mission is to protect Ohio families. I created a Heroin Unit in my office to help local law enforcement and citizens fight back against this deadly scourge. Also, I have held nine community drug forums around the state, where we brought together law enforcement, community activists, business leaders, family members who have lost loved ones to drugs, and others to talk openly about the heroin epidemic in their neighborhoods.
As part of our Heroin Unit, we are helping law enforcement by providing tools to fight drug trafficking. But, as sheriffs and police chiefs across Ohio have told me, we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem. Grassroots, community involvement is vital. That is why I have put together an outreach team in my office to work directly with communities to bring leaders, law enforcement, and concerned citizens together to figure out prevention strategies that best meet the needs of individual communities.
During a November press conference, DeWine spoke of the dramatic increase in Ohio deaths caused by the drug.
"New data our office has gathered suggests 11 people die in Ohio every week from a heroin overdose,” said Attorney General DeWine.
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McConnell and DeWine aren't the only voices speaking out against heroin Wednesday.
The Taylor Mill Fire/EMS Department is hosting a seminar focused on the heroin epidemic in Northern Kentucky and the impact it has on health and healthcare.
The seminar is scheduled for 7 p..m. at the Taylor Mill Fire/EMS Department (Station #1) located at 5225 Taylor Mill Road.